Reflections on 15 years in business

It was in July 2007 that I left banking, a 32-year career building experience in front-line management of SME’s, Product Management and Development, Marketing, Financial control, Training, Team Management, Performance Management and ‘trouble-shooting’, and of course lending money and managing business relationships. My career spanned two recessions when our business customers were hit hard and needed support.

With a background (pre-banking) in a family haulage business, and with all this experience, I was well equipped to set up my own consultancy business to support SME’s ‘from the outside’ and also got a foot in ‘Stirling Partners Finance’, a finance brokerage where my commercial lending skills were adding-value. Of course I walked straight into the 2008 banking crisis, which threw many brokers and lenders into chaos and made it so much more difficult for SME’s to raise money. This actually proved to be ideal timing for me as my experience was of great support to both SME’s and also bankers who appreciated my involvement in difficult situations and in presenting cases professionally.

Since then it has been great to have helped some clients achieve their goals. Situations that stand out:

  • Provided technical and moral support to an entrepreneur selling their business for £4.7m
  • Worked with a busy Executive team to navigate the process of selling a property worth £30m
  • ‘Rescued’ a client who had underestimated the threat from a Private bank to repossess a London property. Upon appointment of a Receiver, I got involved and negotiated some time, during which I was able to refinance the property and allow the client to sell the property, enabling him to come out of the situation over £1m better off.
  • Negotiated directly with a High St bank on the redemption of a complex finance lease, securing a deal which saved the client over £340k
  • Refinanced the debt of a long-standing family demolition business which was under extreme pressure from its bankers which restored its successful trading
  • Found investors for a unique hotel development in Germany and an innovative UK Care Home development.
  • Arranged 100% finance for the purchase of a retail property in Cornwall for £2.2m
  • Supported a successful entrepreneur in the purchase of a Plc
  • Acted as Non-Exec Director for a growth business which is now out-performing all its competitors
  • Intervened when a Private Bank was attempting to treble the loan repayments on a £5m Spanish Villa, successfully helping the bank to come up with another solution to a problem of their own making.
  • Succeeded in reversing a banks decision to withdraw support for a successful business, just because the Directors house had been flooded and had been significantly down-valued, rendering their security to be almost worthless.
  • Spent six months as interim CEO of a small VC company that specialised in lending to community projects.

The list seems endless, and this is on top of arranging Development Finance, Commercial Mortgages, Bridging Loans, Trade Finance and Invoice Discounting deals – and, despite dealing with some complex and stressful cases, not a single client complaint or grievance in all this time.

I’m also pleased to have been able to ‘give back’ with mentoring through the superb ‘NEF Programme’, two University entrepreneur hubs and being a judge on several entrepreneur competitions. I’ve also spent six years as a Trustee of one of the most successful Community Foundations.

I now focus my time on a small number of clients as I try to keep enjoying adding value but working less hours. If you are on my client list it is because (a) I like you (b) I know that I can genuinely help you and achieve whatever goals you have and (c) you appreciate me enough to pay my fees!